Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Title: Before I Go To Sleep

Author: S. J. Watson

Published: Black Swan: Transworld Publishers March 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 29 to 30, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

S.J. Wilson’s debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep attracted much attention on it’s debut in 2011, winning the author a legion of awards, fans, and a movie contract, due for release later this year (2014), starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.

A taut psychological thriller, Before I Go To Sleep tells the story of Christine Lucas, who each morning looks in the mirror to find her face aged by time she can’t recall passing, while a strange man, who claims to be her loving husband, Ben, patiently explains she experienced a traumatic brain injury nearly two decades ago and as a result suffers a rare type of amnesia obliterating much of her past and able to accumulate memories only for as long as she remains awake. As each day wears on, Christine struggles to understand what has happened to her, until, each day, Dr Nash calls and reminds her to read her journal, secreted in a shoebox in her wardrobe. A journal where underneath her name, on the very first page, she has written ‘DON’T TRUST BEN’.

As the story unfolds, so does the mystery of all Christine has forgotten. Her journal reveals lies, half truths and betrayals but can she trust the secrets spilling across the pages? Watson masterfully builds the tension with each revelation, each contradiction, each truth and each lie.

The narrative is infused with Christine’s confusion, fear and panic as she negotiates her past and present. Without her memory she is extraordinarily vulnerable to the manipulations of others and it is frighteningly easy to imagine yourself in her place.

Though some suspension of belief is required for elements of the plot to work, I found I was more than willing to do so. I turned the pages eagerly, caught up in the breathless pace leading to the shocking denouement.

Before I Go To Sleep is a clever, complex thriller that hooked me from the first page and kept me engrossed to the very last.

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21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kimberly (@TurninThePages)
    Apr 01, 2014 @ 19:22:16

    I bought this one this past summer and I’ve been meaning to get to it, I love how it intense it sounds. Glad you enjoyed it!

    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages


  2. booksaremyfavouriteandbest
    Apr 01, 2014 @ 19:43:08

    I loved this book. I read it in its entirety on a long plane trip – perfect holiday reading! Thankfully I knew nothing about it (it had just been released) so there were no spoilers to interfere with my enjoyment. When I finished, my first thought was “This HAS to be made into a movie.”


  3. Jess
    Apr 01, 2014 @ 20:07:19

    I absoutely loved this book when I read it Shelleyrae! It was one of the first psychological thrillers I’d ever read and it got me hooked. Still don’t know how I manage to pick it up on a whim at work, but I’m glad I did. It opened a whole new genre too me – before I’d been to scared to try andything like it. I’m a chicken when it comes to potenially scary things.


  4. herschelian
    Apr 01, 2014 @ 20:28:40

    I read ‘Before I go to Sleep’ a year or so ago and I too was hooked into the very clever story – amnesia is such an interesting condition, and the author uses it so well. Your review summed up my own thoughts about the novel. I would also agree with the comment by booksaremyfavouriteandbest that this would make a terrific film (providing they got the screenplay right, and a really savvy director).


  5. laurelrainsnow
    Apr 02, 2014 @ 03:41:40

    I loved this one, too! I like how you phrased it: ” Without her memory she is extraordinarily vulnerable to the manipulations of others and it is frighteningly easy to imagine yourself in her place.” I definitely could feel the fear.


  6. Chrystal @ Snowdrop Dreams of Books
    Apr 02, 2014 @ 12:32:28

    I still need to write my review for this one. I agree with everything you’ve written about the book. It was intense.


  7. Mystica
    Apr 02, 2014 @ 15:06:53

    This sounds like a very intense read which will get the reader totally absorbed into it! sounds so good.


  8. Jade @ Bits & Bobs
    Apr 02, 2014 @ 20:47:19

    I read Before I Go To Sleep around the time of it’s release, so quite some time ago now, but I remember distinctively feeling a little let down at the end… Don’t get me wrong, I was enthralled in the plot and happily kept turning pages, there was just something that didn’t feel quite right for me – I couldn’t quite put my finger on it then and I still can’t now.

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one and I think you summed it up lovely in your review.


  9. Kailana
    Apr 03, 2014 @ 01:34:01

    I have heard lots of good things about this book to the point that I went out and bought it. Now to find time to read it!


  10. digitalrra
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 11:15:06

    Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you about this Shelley. This book was a big let-down. I found the protagonist totally self-centered with a habit of using people. The big reveal too was nothing much to talk about.


  11. cleopatralovesbooks
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 00:28:47

    I really loved this book, everything about it was so unexpected and it reignited my interest in psychological thrillers.


  12. Teddyree
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 22:08:15

    I picked up a copy of this one after reading some great reviews, still haven’t got to it though … definitely before the movie.


  13. MarthaE
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 09:18:33

    This sounds like a thriller I would really lik. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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